WNBA & WNBPA, The Hilinski Family & Maryam Shojaei Named Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honorees
The sixth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards, sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb, were awarded throughout the past week via announcements on Get Up and SportsCenter, with the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award presented by Dove Men+Care, the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award presented by Anthem Foundation, and the Sports Humanitarian Team Award sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb presented tonight during The 2020 ESPYS Presented by Capitol One.
This year’s winners include (see below for descriptions on each award):
- Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award Presented by Dove Men+Care: Nelson Cruz (Minnesota Twins)
- Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb: Los Angeles Dodgers
- Corporate Community Impact Award: Burton Snowboards
- Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award Presented by Anthem Foundation Winners: Joel Apudo, Batouly Camara, Ally Friedman, Javonn Islar, Elijah Murphy, Chelsea Quito and Niah Woods
- Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by UFC: The Hilinski Family
- Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by Bristol Myers Squibb: WNBA & WNBPA
- Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by Bristol Myers Squibb: Maryam Shojaei
- Sports Philanthropist of the Year Award: Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
- League Humanitarian of the Year Award: National Football League
The Awards once again benefitted the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which this year also received a $1 million donation from Bristol Myers Squibb to support minority scientists and researchers and improve outcomes of African Americans disproportionately affected by cancer. Additionally, ESPN will donate more than $1 million in charitable contributions on behalf of the award nominees and honorees. To date, $9.8 million has been donated to the community on behalf of the Sports Humanitarian Awards
MUHAMMAD ALI SPORTS HUMANITARIAN AWARD PRESENTED BY DOVE MEN+CAREThe Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership and care has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports.
Six-time MLB All-Star Nelson Cruz has completely transformed the safety and welfare of his hometown in the Dominican Republic, Las Matas De Santa Cruz. Thanks to Cruz, the town has a fire engine and an ambulance to treat and transport people to the hospital, which is nearly one hour away. He built a new police station to replace a plywood shack structure and donated a motorcycle for police officers, who previously had to walk. Annually, Cruz brings dentists and optometrists to his hometown’s local clinic to provide checkups, medicine and eyewear. His health event with volunteer doctors and donated equipment and medicine enabled more than 1,200 people to be evaluated and treated. He has purchased wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and canes for elderly and disabled residents. Cruz’s Boomstick23 Foundation also has laid the groundwork for a new education and technical center to help young people learn how to advance their employability by learning trades such as carpentry or electrical, and how to better use farmland to produce crops. Additionally, his Healing Venezuela initiative helps 2,000 Venezuelan newborns annually receive life-sustaining nourishment during their first year (a 400 percent increase since Cruz became involved).
SPORTS HUMANITARIAN TEAM OF THE YEAR SPONSORED BY BRISTOL MYERS SQUIBBThe Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year represents a sports team that demonstrates how teamwork can create a measurable impact on a community or cause.
In Los Angeles, one out of every five people lives at or below the poverty line. The goal of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) is to be bigger than baseball, envisioning a city where every Angeleno, regardless of zip code, has the opportunity to thrive. Through direct programs and grants to nonprofits, LADF tackles the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness, and social justice for all Angelenos. Through Dodgers RBI, LADF has increased access to health care and educational resources to over 10,000 youth, with a specific emphasis on African American youth and girls. The program helped 97 percent of the players, ages 9 to 18, succeed in social-emotional learning development. Another key program, the “Dodgers Reading Champions” online reading challenge of LA Reads, has engaged 16,000 students across 1,075 schools, enabling young readers to read a total of 3,532,000 minutes last year. Their Dodgers Dreamfields program has helped to build or refurbish 51 baseball and softball fields in underserved communities, providing 368,000 youth with access to safe, playable fields in their own neighborhoods. In 2019, LADF unveiled its second universally accessible Dodgers Dreamfield helping over 3,000 youth with special needs to safely play on an adaptive field.
CORPORATE COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD
The Corporate Community Impact Award recognizes a corporation that utilizes their business platform and the power of sports to help advance a social issue, cause or community organization.
In the United States there is a vulnerable segment of youth who do not have access to outdoor opportunities, and consequently limits their ability to access experiences beyond their own challenging environments and step away from their daily norms. The Chill Foundation was founded by the owners of Burton Snowboards, Donna Carpenter, and the late Jake Burton Carpenter. Chill was created to provide access to boardsports for youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity, providing them year-round programming to snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing and stand up paddleboarding lessons at no cost. The youth-development program also addresses the inequalities around access to boardsports, as well as the potential for personal growth and development, while focusing on the resiliency of the participants to help them transfer many of their new skills and ideas to different circumstances they may face. Through Chill, boardsports have become a vehicle for self-empowerment and overcoming obstacles for more than 25,000 young people since the program started.
BILLIE JEAN KING YOUTH LEADERSHIP AWARD PRESENTED BY ANTHEM FOUNDATION
The Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award celebrates and honors youth who are using the power of sport as a catalyst for change and making a positive impact on society.
In 2016, Joel Apudo stepped away from college so he could work for Soccer in the Streets, a nonprofit organization that works to develop young leaders so they can lead rich lives and cultivate healthy communities through sports-based youth development. Apudo manages a local soccer club in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta — a historically Black community plagued by blight and disinvestment. Apudo’s goal is to provide local kids an opportunity to access after-school resources to increase the physical and mental health of those involved with the program. His club built a soccer field at their local train station as a community hub where residents can connect, and kids are able to gain valuable peer-to-peer interaction. This also allowed youth, who had no other mode of transportation, to have access to soccer. Now known as StationSoccer, Apudo played a key role in Soccer in the Streets work to build mini fields at local train stations across Atlanta to level the playing field for youth regardless of where they live. Ultimately, Soccer in the Street aspires to develop a transit soccer league at train stations, which will have their own clubs and programs, all by utilizing the existing transit system. Now, Apudo hopes to return to college to obtain a bachelor’s degree and prove to his community’s kids that anyone can be successful if they set goals and work towards them.
Batouly Camara, a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a master’s degree in Sports Management, founded Women and Kids Empowerment (W.A.K.E.), a nonprofit that uses basketball to educate, equip and empower young girls by providing scholarships, elite training and life skills development. Since its inception, W.A.K.E. has provided young girls and women ages 5 – 30 free basketball clinics, professional development and empowerment workshops and health and safety classes. These workshops are designed to enhance self-awareness, leadership development, goal setting and address gender stereotypes. Camara’s WAKE Academy, targeting ages 12-16, includes a select group of girls who receive educational scholarships, elite training, develop community service initiatives and are offered opportunities to study abroad. WAKE has worked with over 800 girls in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. She also recently published a children’s book about inclusion and diversity in girls’ sports. Camara has also found time to speak at Ted X UConn and numerous panels and radio shows globally on topics related to race, gender equity, education and access to sports, demonstrating her dedication to manifesting a world that acknowledges, serves and empowers youth.
Inspired from her experiences in i-tri, an inclusive, community-based nonprofit program that fosters self-respect, personal empowerment, self-confidence and positive body images for adolescent girls, Ally Friedman created a program called THE BALL — Tennis, Health, Empowerment, Building Attitudes, Lifetime Lessons — to instill passion for sport and empowerment to young girls in her hometown of East Hampton, N.Y. The program is geared toward teaching girls between the ages of 7 – 12 about health, empowerment, mindfulness and other skills through using tennis. Friedman, who has struggled with anxiety and self-confidence, recognizes that tennis can serve as a catharsis for girls, and she has developed a curriculum for the program, as she hopes to evolve THE BALL into a nonprofit organization so that its model can be easily adapted and scaled for use in other communities. Friedman’s aspiration is to help young girls to feel empowered, recognize their self-worth and grow their self-confidence, all through the power of sports. Friedman has been playing tennis for nine years and will be playing at the collegiate-level as she enters Bates College this fall.
Javonn Islar aspires to positively impact his community of Brownsville, Brooklyn through the game of basketball to break down the divides in his community through his involvement in PeacePlayers – an organization that uses the power of sports to unite, educate and inspire young people to create a more peaceful world by offering sport programming, peace education, and leadership development to those living in communities in conflict. Islar saw first-hand growing up the negative effects young people experience due to gun and gang violence. In 2019, he co-planned a first-ever international basketball tournament that brought young people from Brownsville and Armagh, Northern Ireland together. Both communities are divided due to a history of violence, but Islar’s work provided a safe space for young people to share their love for basketball and also their experiences growing up. Since graduating from high school, Islar has taken on a greater role within the leadership development program to understand the peacebuilding theory behind the PeacePlayers way of coaching basketball as well as participating in the PeacePlayers Friendship Games, which is a youth leadership exchange that equips standout leaders with the tools to impart change in their communities through sports.
Chelsea Quito is a first-generation Ecuadorian American residing in the South Bronx — a community surrounded by violence, high poverty, drugs and homelessness. Quito paved a path forward for herself by joining New York City Football Club’s City in the Community Foundation. As a member of the Foundation’s Youth Leadership and Enterprise Program, Quito worked specifically on a social program called Soccer Bloc, which empowers youth from across the five boroughs through a five-week summer program in underserved communities using the power of soccer. Each week, Quito led the program focusing on different social topics including diversity and inclusion, healthy lifestyles, safety awareness, self-identity and leadership. As a key facilitator for the Youth Leadership Council, Quito leads programming, professional development and oversees volunteering for high school youth. She also collaborated with Young Leaders to create a podcast studio in the Bronx and has led the delivery of Young Leader training for 40 youth leaders. In recent months, in response to the impact COVID-19 has had on youth in her community, Quito is assisting in the design of a summer program to bring virtual programming for youth in New York City.
Elijah Murphy and Niah Woods
Elijah Murphy and Niah Woods are two of the nearly 300 NCAA Division I athletes from four colleges in Washington D.C. working with The Grassroot Project, which leverages the excitement, relatability, and popularity of sports to provide much-needed health literacy and social empowerment programs to D.C. youth. According to a 2016 OSSE report, fewer than 5% of schools in D.C. were provided adequate health and physical fitness for their students. As part of the Project, Murphy — a rising senior on the varsity wrestling team at American University — and Woods — a rising sophomore and a two-sport athlete on the track and field and basketball teams at Howard University — are working directly with 12 local middle schools to deliver an innovative curriculum that uses physical activity and sports-based games as a method for instilling health messages. To ensure these students have access to physical activity, health information and supportive role models, Murphy, Woods and the other Division I athletes’ part of the Project have offered a series of 28 one-hour lessons focusing on physical, mental and sexual health education programs for more than 1,000 D.C. youth.
STUART SCOTT ENSPIRE AWARD HONOREES
In honor of former ESPN commentator Stuart Scott, this award celebrates individuals that have taken risks and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports.
Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by UFC
After their son Tyler, the former quarterback at Washington State, tragically took his own life, Mark and Kym Hilinski created Hilinski’s Hope Foundation (H3H) to raise awareness around mental health and ultimately honor their son. H3H is helping colleges and universities across the United States save lives, eliminate stigma and scale mental wellness programs for student athletes, and thus far has raised over half a million dollars to fund these programs. By sharing Tyler’s story, H3H connects students with mental health resources, and the foundation also assists universities to institutionalize best practices. Since its inception in 2018, H3H has visited and sent mental health professionals to more than 50 schools and universities. H3H also has attended and spoken at over two dozen conferences, impacting more than 50,000 people. Together with a group of students from Washington State, H3H launched 3 FOR 3 Burpee challenge in 2019 to ‘get up for those who are down’ to destigmatize mental illness. Hilinski’s Hope recently organized a call-to-action for colleges and universities nationwide to participate in the inaugural College Football Mental Health Awareness Week, October 3-10, in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 4-10. The week will kick off on October 3, known as 3DAY, honoring Tyler, those lost, and those suffering and will culminate with World Mental Health Day on October 10.
Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb
Since 1979, hardline conservatives in Iran enforced an unwritten rule to exclude women from attending men’s soccer matches, citing the inappropriate environment of “profane language” and “half-naked men” (the athletes). Beginning in 2014, Maryam Shojaei anonymously addressed and criticized the ban on social media. She continued her activism a year later, when she traveled to Australia to attend the Asian Football Confederation Tournament and held a banner throughout the game, which called for Iranian women to be allowed to enter stadiums, and it caught the attention the media. A few months later, Shojaei attended the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada where she also displayed the banner and gained international interest, forming a coalition with global human rights and sports activists. In 2018, the international coalition helped Shojaei create the #NoBan4Women petition, and she traveled to the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Despite her banner receiving prior approval to display, as the extensive global news coverage it received, Shojaei was detained and her banner was confiscated after the first match. However, Shojaei persisted and the #NoBan4Women petition — which received hundreds of thousands of signatures — shifted focus from the Iranian Football Federation’s discrimination against women to FIFA’s responsibility to enforce their own human rights and gender discrimination policies. Throughout 2019, Shojaei and the coalition maintained public and private pressure on FIFA to uphold its own policies or disqualify Iran from the World Cup qualifier match for noncompliance. By October, FIFA sent a delegation to Iran allowing access for thousands of Iranian women and girls to attend the match qualifier match.
This year, the WNBA and WNBPA announced a groundbreaking, eight-year collective bargaining agreement that charts a new course for women’s professional sports. The strategic and unified collaboration between the league and the players’ association resulted in a landmark pact that will serve as a template to other professional women — in sport and other sectors of society. The CBA features significant investments by the team owners, including; increases player salary and compensation; motherhood and family planning elements; and quality of life enhancements such as mental health benefits and domestic/intimate partner violence counseling. Additionally, the WNBA and the players have worked together and will continue to stand up and speak out on behalf of injustice and marginalized communities. The players have demonstrated 144 united and unwavering black, brown, and white voices committed to voting rights, supporting #BlackLivesMatter and a consistent and continuing denouncement of police brutality and excessive force. Together the bold advocacy of the league and the players has included promoting equality and opportunity in sport through these social justice efforts, and through the #HerTimeToPlay program, participating in LGBTQ+ pride demonstrations against discrimination and hosting breast cancer awareness events.
SPORTS PHILANTHROPIST OF THE YEAR AWARD
When the beloved owner of the Buffalo Bills, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., passed away at the age of 95 in 2014, it gave rise to his ultimate act of generosity: proceeds from the sale of the team funded a Foundation bearing his name. With a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation invests in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. Since 2015, it has distributed and committed $260 million in grants across its two regions aimed at increasing access to youth sports programs and play spaces and growing the regions’ public parks and trails. Last year, they launched the “Don’t Retire, Kid” campaign in partnership with the Aspen Institute and ESPN to draw attention to the fact that too many children are “retiring” from sports prematurely. They helped to raise awareness of the cost barriers and pressures kids face in the Foundation’s own communities. The Foundation is also helping to build more safe and exciting places for kids to experience free play through its Built to Play initiative in partnership with KABOOM! and the Tony Hawk Foundation, investing in new skatepark playgrounds and innovative play spaces across Southeast Michigan and Western New York.
LEAGUE HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
The League Humanitarian Leadership Award recognizes a professional sports league’s programmatic and philanthropic investments and its work for strategically engaging with athletes, teams and business partners to create positive impact in communities.
In honor of the NFL’s 100th season, the league launched Huddle for 100, a volunteer campaign asking its players, coaches, owners, staff, partners, sponsors and fans to donate 100 minutes of their time to give back to the community, with a goal of 100 million total minutes served. Throughout the 2019 season, volunteer events were held by the league and all 32 teams across the country. By February, the NFL shattered their goal with 397,253,630 volunteer minutes served from 1,020,846 volunteers, equating to a value of over $168.36 million. The NFL Family also collectively raised more than $100 million for COVID-19 Relief. In addition to donations made by the league, teams and players, it hosted a massive fundraising campaign, the Draft-A-Thon, during the 2020 NFL Draft that raised much-needed funds and awareness for COVID-19 relief efforts.
About ESPN Corporate Citizenship
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use power of sport to positively address society’s needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to www.espn.com/citizenship.
About Bristol Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb, visit us at BMS.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.